Set up safe houses for runaway couples: HC to Haryana, Punjab

Express News Service
CHANDIGARH: Couples in Haryana and Punjab, who marry against the wishes of their families, will soon get shelter and legal aid at their doorstep following a high court directive on Wednesday that safe houses should be available in all districts of the two states and the Union Territory of Chandigarh for them.

The court was hearing a writ petition that had sought issuance of directions to the Punjab government to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners who married on March 4 against the wishes of their parents.

In an interim order, Justice Avneesh Jhingan made it clear that the Legal Services Authorities (LSA) of both states and also of Chandigarh were required to set up 24×7 help desks for the couples with telephone service and internet connectivity at tehsil level for filing such pleas by aggrieved persons.

He also pointed out that a website or an online module should be provided for such couples to raise their grievances without being physically present.

Noting that a number of petitions are being filed by couples who married against the wishes of their parents those in a live-in relationship, the judge said, “The entire endeavour is (so) that some sort of workable mechanism is put in motion to ensure protection of life and personal liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Only in exceptional cases, the couples have to take trouble to approach this court alleging infringement of the rights.”

The court directed that an existing cell in the police department can be deputed or a new cell can be created which can deal with the representation for safety from aggrieved couple in a time-bound manner, not extending beyond 48 hours.

“It can also be ensured that in case a request is made by the couples during the period of consideration of the representation, they should be provided shelter in a safe house,” it said.